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What is the next step for CCRC's watershed project?

Project Coordinator Dave Beck discusses court dates, declaratory judgment

Contributed photo
Pictured is a map of Clarke County water-supply project.
Contributed photo Pictured is a map of Clarke County water-supply project.

With the May 7 special election on repealing the local option sales tax (LOST) over, the real work for Clarke County Reservoir Commission's (CCRC) Squaw Creek Watershed Project is just beginning.

Repealing LOST was directly related to funding the watershed project, and voters in Clarke County decided they didn't want to repeal it.

David Beck, CCRC's project coordinator, said he's been answering questions and interrogatories about the declaratory-judgment process. An interrogatory is a question or demand for information.

"In the notification process and all, you start uncovering certain things," Beck said. "Like, there's an ownership that involves somebody who had passed away and, so then, the estate had never been cleared up. And, there's got to be some stuff done there and all that."

Squaw Creek

The ongoing CCRC Squaw Creek Watershed project could provide a water supply for Osceola and SIRWA (Southern Iowa Rural Water Association) with an 816-acre lake, which could provide 2.2 million gallons of water per day.

West Lake, the current water source, doesn't meet the needs of Clarke County and SIRWA.

The total project cost for the reservoir in the CCRC Squaw Creek Watershed is estimated at $37.6 million. Funding for the project includes many sources, especially funding from LOST.

Two dates

Beck said CCRC's attorney told him, by the end of May, the court administrator and attorneys will have a meeting, most likely a conference call, to set two dates.

One is a date when "discovery" is due to the court. Discovery is a legal term for fact finding.

The second date to be set will be the actual court date for declaratory judgment. This is a court review for acquiring land for a public project. It authorizes CCRC to purchase land from voluntary sellers and allows exercising eminent domain for involuntary sellers.

Beck said CCRC's attorney told him the declaratory judgment court date will probably be 90 days from the time of the conference-call meeting.

"Let's just say they meet toward the end of May, first of June, 90 days from there puts us into September before we probably have a court date," he said. "So, that's where we're at."

After the court session, a judgment might be available in November.

"One thing I've learned is once we're into the legal system, we don't have a lot of control on that timing," Beck said.

Already want to sell?

CCRC member Norm Lust asked when it will be possible for the people who already want to sell their property early and "get moving."

Beck said the legal process has been the same since he's been with CCRC, and that means the declaratory judgment needs to be cleared before land can be bought, even from willing sellers. The legal process will take time, especially with appraisals.

"Realistically, we're probably talking January, February, March, something like that," Beck said. "We're pushing it along. It's a big 'unwieldy' pile. … I'd like to help them move on with their lives, too."

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